by Ryan Edwards, Executive Chef, Appellation at The Louise
“The most important thing to remember when roasting a chicken is the chicken itself. Buy the most local, well looked after bird from a grower with a good reputation, and as organic as possible. This ensures your work will be easy.”
1. Start the day before and mix 25g of good salt into 500g of water until it is fully dissolved.
2. Remove the wishbone from the chicken (if this seems like a daunting task, ask your friendly local butcher to do it for you when you purchase the bird). This will allow for very easy carving later on and you will get far more meat from the chicken when roasted.
3. Place the chicken in the brine, ensuring it is covered and leave for 24 hours in the fridge. This will penetrate the flesh and season the bird perfectly. More importantly, it will create a beautiful texture that is both firm and juicy.
4. Remove the chicken from the brine and wash under cold water. Pat dry with a clean cloth or absorbent paper.
5. Take the wings and place them behind the back of the chicken; this will bring the chicken up off the bottom of the roasting pan, making the skin crispier (which is very important)!
6. Making the stuffing can be manipulated however you please, but try to keep it seasonal and use the herbs in your garden. I have a bottle of the Henschke Croft Chardonnay in the fridge and it is the start of winter in the Barossa so here is mine:
• Take some day-old bread and break it up, using a food processor if you like. I have noticed that most herbs in our garden haven’t liked the frost this winter, but the sage is looking wonderful. Take some sage if you have it, chop it with two cloves of garlic and add it to your bread.
• Next slice some bacon, (in the Barossa we all have our favourite sources)! Slice it quite fine (big chunks in your stuffing will be too hard to eat and overpowering).
• Next add 100g of chestnuts, roasted, skin removed and chopped (I have sourced mine from the Adelaide Hills). Season the stuffing with a little salt and pepper and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add this to the cavity of the chicken.
7. Grab some cooking twine and tie the legs together; this keeps the stuffing in, but also creates a better shape for even cooking. Season the skin of the chicken with a little salt, pepper and olive oil (remembering that we brined the flesh so it is already fairly well seasoned).
8. Preheat oven to 220°C. Once again, this part is up to you, but I often place some root vegetables to roast in a large pan and place the bird on top.
9. Place in the middle of the oven. Cooking time will vary dramatically depending on size but as a general rule 45 minutes at this temperature for a large chicken, less for smaller. (If unsure it is always better to cook the chicken a little longer, as nobody likes it pink).
10. Bring the chicken out of the oven and let it rest while enjoying a glass of the now open chardonnay and making of your favourite sauce using the juices left in the pan.